Where – Vilnius, Lithuania
When – 6th September (when we met). The organisation Mes Darom was set up in 2008.
Who – Vaida and Roberta who are both part of the core team of the Lithuania office. Vaida is responsible for International Affairs, liaising with the other countries part of the network (called Let’s Do It World – there are 110 other countries part of it so it’s pretty huge! There is one in the UK too – I need to look them up!). Roberta described herself as an environmental consultant. She worked in waste management previously and is passionate about helping people learn not to throw it out, and to separate and recycle it.
What – Mes Darom, the first and biggest environmental organisation in Lithuania, organise a big clean up day once a year in April. Last year 200,000 people donned gloves and cleared up the rubbish in their local area. Throughout the rest of the year they organise lectures and other activities. For example, last week, they organised a clean up of the sea with a group of divers in Sventoji (the Baltic Sea). They are also arranging a forum for discussion in November between government, business and NGOs in Lithuania to discuss how they can make the Lithuanian environment even cleaner.
Why – All of these activities aim to get people to take action to improve their local environment, helping to engender a greater sense of care for nature and thinking more carefully about where rubbish goes and what to do with it to avoid environmental damage.
Impacts/success – each year of the clean up less rubbish is being collected, not because less people are involved but because fewer people are throwing out rubbish into the environment, a sure sign of success! Mes Darom is well-known throughout Lithuania and there are more and more ‘clean up points’ for people to get involved each year.
Find out more – www.mesdarom.lt (use Google Chrome so you can do a translation into English)
Personal reflections –
I was amazed at the number of people who get involved in the clean up day each year.
Mes Darom is clearly an organisation growing in traction, influence and impact.
From Vaida and Roberta’s perspectives, the number of people becoming interested in environmental issues is growing all the time.
Lithuania doesnt yet have a household recycling system in place but it seems it will only be a matter of time.
Lithuanian people have a strong sense of identity, partly due to becoming newly independent relatively recently, its history and its small size. This seems to both contribute to and take away from environmental action – on the one hand, people come together through common activity, reinforcing their closeness with each other. On the other hand, in an international context of environmental issues such as climate change, apparently people tend to feel Lithuania is too small to make any difference.
The growing number of environmental organisations in Lithuania do not yet collaborate that much apparently, but the forum set for November is the perfect platform for this, and Mes Darom’s roots as part of an international network suggest it is well versed in working with others to achieve more.